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Posts Tagged ‘When Sue Wears Red’

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was an African-American poet, novelist, columnist, short story writer, and playwright. His exceptional literary talents were recognized early in life; he was elected class poet at his Lincoln, Illinois elementary school.

Langston Hughes scoffed at the “honor” of the position:

“I was a victim of a stereotype. There were only two of us Negro kids in the whole class and our English teacher was always stressing the importance of rhythm in poetry. Well, everyone knows — except us — that all Negroes have rhythm, so they elected me as class poet.” 

Langston is best associated with the American literary movement known as the Harlem Renaissance (1920s-1930s)  and was one of the pioneers of a new literary form, jazz poetry.

Langston wrote his first jazz poem when he was in high school in Cleveland: “When Sue Wears Red.” Here it is:

When Sue Wears Red

 

When Susanna Jones wears red

Her face is like an ancient cameo

Turned brown by the ages.

Come with a blast of trumpets, Jesus!

 

When Susanna Jones wears red

A queen from some time-dead Egyptian night

Walks once again.

Blow trumpets, Jesus!

 

And the beauty of Susanna Jones in red

Burns in my heart a love-fire sharp like pain.

Sweet silver trumpets, Jesus!

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